Double murder rocks quiet Little Haiti street

 
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crabin@MiamiHerald.com

An early morning double murder on a quiet Little Haiti street has some people who have lived there for years ready to pack up and leave.

Police are trying to piece together why two people were gunned down under an old oak tree and in front of beige home early Wednesday morning.

But reasons and motives make no difference to Amalie St. Louis, the 76-year-old matriarch of the four adults and two children who for the past three years have lived in the other half of the home where the shooting occurred.

“It doesn’t matter. Just the fact that it happened to them means we’re going to look for a new home,” St. Louis said later Wednesday morning, seated on her front porch with three other family members.

None of the six were injured during the wild drive-by shooting in which police said dozens of bullets flew, riddling the passenger side of a parked car like a scene from an old gangster movie.

According to police, Marquis Sams, 20, and Wilneka Pennyman, 19, were talking outside the home at 151 NE 63rd St. — the man seated behind the wheel of an older model Chevy Cavalier, the woman standing beside it —when another older model dark car with a shattered window pulled alongside, and someone began firing.

Witnesses said the car sped off “at a high rate of speed.”

Sams died instantly in the Cavalier, and was found slumped down on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Pennyman managed just a few steps before collapsing inside a chain link fence in front of the home. The car was towed with the victim still inside as evidence.

Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said Sams body remained in the vehicle while it was removed so detectives can continue to comb the vehicle for evidence and so the Miami-Dade medical examiner can more easily determine which bullet was the cause of death. Pennyman was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition, where she died.

"The car itself is riddled," Reyes said. "The passenger and rear side. Both were shot multiple times.”

Police haven’t said whether Sams or Pennyman lived in the home just a few steps behind where the shooting occurred.

A cluster of homes and old trees, mostly oaks, line Northeast 63rd Street. Though only a block from busy 62nd Street to the south and Second Avenue to the west, it’s a mostly quiet neighborhood with little traffic and kids milling about.

Police said they’ve received few calls in the immediate area in recent years.

Two years ago, though, a similar shooting five blocks away rocked this part of Little Haiti. It was just before midnight when when brothers Mackerson Pierre, 17, and Yves Sylvester, 15, were gunned down as they and friends played video games in a covered driveway. Two others were wounded.

Reyes said witnesses have not been able to identify the shooters in Wednesday’s double killing, but that calls were made to police from people nearby who were awakened by the shooting.

St. Louis, the 76-year-old grandmother of the family living in the other half of the home behind where the shooting took place, said she and another woman living there suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure —and that the shootings aren’t helping their health.

She said everyone inside the home hit the floor and tried to roll under beds at the sound of the gunfire. The people living next door, ehe said, have only been there for about a month, and keep to themselves, rarely even saying hello.

The St. Louis family was so frightened by the shooting, she said, they wouldn’t open the front door to go outside until police knocked.

“We were sleeping. The gunshots woke us up,” St. Louis said. “We went down to the ground, our blood pressure is still up.”

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